A Black Florida teenager who says she was bullied for months by classmates was falsely accused of threatening her school and then wrongly detained at a juvenile detention facility for 11 days, according to her family and attorney.
Now the 13-year-old's mother, Lezlie-Ann Davis, is suing Renaissance Charter School at Pines over the November incident.
"I feel distanced," the teen, Nia Whims, said at a news conference this week. "I really don't want to talk to anybody."
The lawsuit, obtained by NBC News, alleges that the girl was being bullied at the school in Pembroke Pines, about 20 miles north of Miami. Davis reported the alleged bullying in August and had requested a meeting with school officials, the suit states.
The meeting never happened, according to the complaint, and the school did not address the family's concerns. The bullying continued until Davis made the decision to pull Whims from the school and enroll her somewhere else, the suit says.
In November, Whims began talking with a Renaissance Charter School student on Instagram about the bullying. The suit identifies the second teen as M.S.
After the conversation, M.S. allegedly created a fake Instagram page using Whims' name, the lawsuit states. While pretending to be Whims, M.S. allegedly sent herself messages that “included threats to blow up the school and kill people,” including M.S. and a teacher, according to the lawsuit.
The messages were disclosed to the teacher, who informed school officials and the police. The charter school was placed on limited lockdown but later determined to be safe, according to the complaint.
Pembroke Pines police began investigating what led to the lockdown and were allegedly told by M.S. that Whims had sent messages threatening the school, the lawsuit says.
Officers allegedly interrogated Whims, who said she had talked with M.S. over Instagram but did not make any threats.
On Nov. 19, Whims was arrested and taken to a juvenile detention center, according to the lawsuit. Police said in a statement at the time that she was being charged with a second-degree felony for making a written threat to do bodily harm or commit an act of terrorism.
She spent 11 days in the facility and had to undergo a psychological evaluation, according to the lawsuit. She was released on Nov. 29 after investigators determined that the messages came from an IP address connected to M.S.
“Failure to promptly investigate this easily discoverable information by the Pembroke Pines Police Department caused (Nia Whims) to remain in a juvenile detention facility away from her family for eleven days," the suit states.
In an updated statement on Feb. 10, police said Whims had been exonerated of the charges. The department said the family initially did not cooperate with police in the early stages of the investigation.
In the statement, the department said Davis did not begin cooperating until December when she provided information that led them to subpoena an IP address connected to the threatening messages.
The family, however, said in the lawsuit that they gave police the iPad that Whims had used to talk to M.S. on the day of her arrest.
In January, police learned that the messages were sent by a 12-year-old girl at the school who "viciously impersonated" Whims, the police statement says. Authorities said the 12-year-old sent threatening messages to multiple students to "frame" Whims.
The 12-year-old was charged with several crimes including written threats to kill or do bodily harm, and falsifying a police report. NBC News is not naming her because she is a minor.
Marwan Porter, a lawyer for the family, questioned whether this would have happened to a white student.
"If it was a young Caucasian girl ... and this happens, does it go down like this?" he said at the news conference.
The school said it was limited in what it could say about the lawsuit.
"Our highest priority remains the safety and security of our students. We always have and always will take all appropriate actions to ensure our students and staff are safe. We are not at liberty to discuss any private student issues and we do not comment on pending litigation," a spokesperson said.
The lawsuit also named Meta, the parent company for Instagram, as a defendant, alleging that the social media platform failed to "promptly provide or cooperate with the investigating officers " which led to a delay in police declaring Whims innocent. A spokesperson for Meta did not immediately return a request for comment.